A typical Environment Bank impact assessment and biodiversity compensation scheme might follow these steps:
1. An assessment is undertaken by Environment Bank (usually using existing ecological survey information), on behalf of the Local Planning Authority or developer, to calculate the biodiversity impact of a proposed development, after the normal mitigation hierarchy (to avoid and reduce harm where possible) has been followed. The assessment uses Government metrics to assess habitat type, condition and area and takes into account risk factors and anticipated impact and mitigation measures to calculate any residual loss or gain to biodiversity.
2. If a biodiversity loss is calculated, then the developer is given a biodiversity deficit calculation to the value of, say, – 65 units impacting grassland. They therefore need to buy 65 grassland ‘conservation credits’ to compensate for their impacts.
3. The Local Planning Authority agrees with the developer that planning consent can be granted with the conditioned requirement of an appropriate offsetting scheme.
4. Nearby, a farmer/conservation land manager has submitted to the registry a long-term management plan that will, if funded, deliver biodiversity gain of 70 credits. This calculation is also done by Environment Bank using the same Government metrics.
5. When the two – developer’s offsetting needs and land manager’s conservation objectives – are matched, the credits are bought and sold and money passes into the system to fund long-term conservation management.
6. Fiscal and legal guarantees assure Local Planning Authorities that the offset is deliverable and that their planning decisions will secure net biodiversity gain.
Environment Bank arranges long-term monitoring of its’ projects. It is important to us that our work has a positive impact on UK wildlife habitats and biodiversity.